Sunday Morning

hair-close-up

While she cooked she’d looked out the window and the daffodils were blooming around the birdbath, and Henry was home, and the house was quiet, and she felt her own luck. There was Henry home and Charlie and Tommy and her house with the bird feeder and summer vacation soon and she felt her own luck at having this quiet moment, this life, this day.

~ Sharon Guskin, The Forgetting Time: A Novel


Photo: Elif Sanem Karakoc

 

She’s Gone (Again)

rachel-apartment-sullivan-street-2

Four days later, and the tops of both thighs still burn, sensitive to the touch. No, nothing to do with running, which is another sad story, left for another day.

I load my canons, yes one “n”, and fire.

  • The Tort: “You entered into a verbal contract. You said you would stay.”
  • The Economic: “Manhattan is nose bleed expensive. You’ll drain whatever savings you have.”
  • The Nostalgic: “I’m turning your room in an extension of my Den, and calling it my West Wing.”
  • The Desperate: “You know in Italy, kids live with their parents until well into their 30’s.”
  • The Fear Mongering: “I’m cutting you off Netflix, Amazon Prime and yes, AT&T Mobile Service.”

Nothing works. And we’re off.

The family caravan departs in the Resettlement. Eric (Son) drives the U-haul with two friends. Mom, Dad and Rachel are up ahead in a separate car.  Waze estimates 44 miles – a whopping 1 hour 42 minutes to lower Manhattan.

The rain falls gently, setting the appropriate back drop.

It’s a five-floor walk-up. I now know what a 5-floor walk-up means. No elevators and narrow stairwells. Walk-up means walk-up. With furniture, furnishings and oversize and overweight boxes, all up five floors – on foot. With adequate resistance provided by non-ventilated, A/C-free hallways. The musty carpet fibers are pulled deep into the lungs with each trip up and down the stairs. [Read more…]

Graduation Day.

eric-kanigan-kindergarten-college-graduation

10 hour car ride. In Both directions. In three days. Why drive, when you can fly?

Fighting traffic to airport. Finding parking in overflowing lots. Standing in interminable TSA security lines. Hard-back molded plastic seats, waiting. Delays. Waiting to board. Fighting for overhead bin space. No open seats. No legroom. Non-reclining seats. Unclean arm rests and seat tray tables. Claustrophobia. Acrophobia.  And then, the other side. Waiting to deplane. Waiting for luggage. Dragging luggage to car rental, more waiting. And, then, a one-hour drive to Winston-Salem.

But “that” wasn’t it.

There was only this option, for this could be the last road trip with Family. Road trips with Family. McDonalds. Dad trying to make time, foot heavy on accelerator. Tummies full of soda, unscheduled bathroom breaks at highway rest stops. The Karaoke. The arm signals to Truckers urging a pull on the deep throaty air horns. The honking in tunnels. The spilled milkshakes. The spats in the back seat. Are we there yet?  Budget hotels with swimming pools, had to have a swimming pool. Single rooms, twin beds with too-soft mattresses, undersized bathrooms, always two towels short. The thrill of Room Service. Kids petering out, little bodies sleeping side by side, their gentle puffs of breath, gone dreaming.

I turn my head to the window to look out at the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, I wipe the tears, and step on the accelerator. Like a firework in the face. Accept our gratitude for the promise of a next chapter in life. And a next. And a next.¹ 

Graduation Day. [Read more…]

The Baccalaureate Service. Like a firework in the face.

IMG_7583

Father and Daughter work Twitter and hit the jackpot – the University posts the tweet on the giant outdoor screens for the overflow crowd. Janet Frame sets the stage: “For memory is so often a single explosion, like a firework in the face. One is blinded.”

It’s the same building where I sat four years ago, on August 25, 2012. It was memorialized in my post: He’s Gone. Take your index finger and swipe right to left on your device. One swish, one blink and four years — Gone.

Wait Chapel. The Baccalaureate Service. 54° F. on this glorious Sunday morning. The North wind gusts to keep it real, hands reach back to hold down the Sunday dresses. Summer? Not just yet He says. Not just yet.

A Tie, (Red. Italian. Silk.) specially selected for the Event from Dad’s Tie rack, made the 10 hour commute to rest in a Windsor knot around his neck; 50 feet below us, our Son sits in the pews, breathing, loosening the tie a wee bit to give himself air.

Hundreds of parents, grandparents, friends —buzz in anticipation, flipping through programs, flashing their smart phones to capture the moments.

The Invocation is led by the very same University Chaplain Reverend Tim Auman, who captured the spirit at freshman orientation. He does it again four years later. [Read more…]

Coming Soon

A montage of customer-shot photos and videos using the iPhone, united thematically by the idea of mothers and their children. (Source: Appleinsider.com)


Saturday Morning

bird-feather-plumage-red-orange
He wakes to find his wife lying on her stomach,
the children on top of her,
one on her back,
the other on her buttocks.
They are sleeping on her, clinging, head to foot.
Their presence absolves him, slowly he grows content.
This world, its birds in their feathers,
its sunlight … reason, at least for the moment.
It consoles him.
He is warm, potent, filled with impregnable joy.

~ James Salter, Light Years


Notes:

Siblings.

safe,parent,

She’s 23.  Her Brother, 22.

He orders a Tom Collins, and gets carded.  She, a Zinfindel. Dad, a tall ice water. “Sparkling, or Flat for you Sir?”  “Tap, Miami’s finest please.” After dinner cocktails in a hotel bar, with of-age children. Embrace the memories, block the melancholia. I fail, it seeps in and then overwhelms me, water around stone.

It’s a quiet Friday night. The Sushi Chef leans on the glass case and flirts with the cocktail waitress. She’s wearing a smart black skirt and jacket.  On the other side of the bar, middle aged lovers huddle, whispering.

A one-man band blows on an electronic wind instrument, alternating with a brass trumpet with a black trumpet cap.  His supporting cast, multi-colored bars flashing on a laptop and pumped out of tall, thin, floor standing speakers.  He sways to and fro, lips pursed on reed. The Chill music hangs, a sweet fine mist over the valley.  One could drop this, all of this, in Ramblas in Barcelona, in Gastown in Vancouver or the Dièse Onze in Montreal.  Vibe, Same.

The eyelids are heavy, barbells. The body, from its all day soak in the sun, the wind, and the ocean salt, aches for rest.

I watch them leave together, bar hopping. She leans into him with her shoulder, they laugh. How many times in their lifetimes? Hundreds of times where Mom, and Dad, the Heavy, broke up skirmishes, and worse. Salter’s Light Years: “Passing of life together, a compact that will never end…lives formed together, woven together.”  And Parents stitching, braiding, weaving it all in the hope of This. Look, This, a tapestry. Full body warmth rushes in.

I ride the elevator up.  Melancholy, a Tsunami now. [Read more…]

The Line and Beyond

vizsla,dog,pet,cute,

Don’t get misled by the floppy ears and the deliciousness.  He’s a wild beast. A Wild Beast.

My eyes take inventory of the damage.

There are four swollen puncture marks. All on the same hand.  One gouge on the bulging vein on top of the right hand, two side by side on the wrist two inches above it, and one lightly visible on the fatty part of the skin above the thumb and index finger.

I slide my thumb into the palm in my right hand.  I grip. Pain shoots up my hand, wrist and arm.  Self-inflicted. Sort of. Not really.

It was all triggered by my step counter flashing red, urging me to get up off the couch – Walk! Harmless enough.

Rachel is glued to The Bachelor. (Mind numbing trash). I’m catching up on the morning papers. And Red Lights are still flashing.

I get up.

Zeke eyes me as I make a loop around the kitchen, the living room and the family room.

I make a second loop, and I pick up the pace heading into the third.  Zeke jumps off the ottoman and gives chase.

I run. [Read more…]

A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit.

baby-drawing

Four days later, Ev starts to talk. His sounds have been buffering at meaning for weeks, but now they emerge as his own handiwork and he sets them gently one beside another in lines. […]

Children are born into language. They understand the nuances of speech at birth and Ev has been listening to our ceaseless chatter for months in the womb. He has been read to and sung to and laughed at. He knows the pattern of our voices and by its cadence he knows too that something is happening. My face signals it, and the sudden sparks of urgent conversation, the gaps that follow.

Ev’s vocabulary as he presents it to us is superlatively normal. He has no words for fear. He says Daddy to mean either of us, kee for monkey and Oh no! at all upsets. Ssss serves for snake, the letter S, and any linear thing like a belt or bit of his railway track. He says click for light and sta for monster, gakator for tractor and soon has a small handy clip of words like digger, apple, spoon, butter, cardi, eye, toast, brush. Seem means machine. He can do two, three and four. And in a way that is entirely normal too, we poke him and spur him on. This is what you do with children, goad them for your own enjoyment. Make a noise like a volcano, we say. Make a noise like a firework. Make a noise like a dinosaur. His eyes are merry. A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit. […]

He is the size of a cat; a thing of gold fur and whitened sunshine. His hands paw and pat the textures of the food as he draws each substance one by one into his mouth: sour, sweet, char, salt, pulp, oil and leaf.  […]

He goes at food with intellectual interest and straight joy in taste. It is bonny. If I had known how much pleasure I would get from watching my baby eat I would have thought it an argument for more babies. It is such a treat I can’t take my eyes off him and I mask my keenness in case it makes him suspicious that there is something more at stake. So I eat with him, or look out the window or pretend to read the paper. He spoons up lentils, snuffles through tomato sauce with basil and surges his pasta round in it, he dips bread in spinach soup till soup and bread are one and sucks it. He holds broccoli like a cudgel and stuffs one, then two, three, four trees into his mouth. He eats liver! He eats bananas and garlic and stir-fry! We goggle at him. We win and he wins. We all triumph together.

~ Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir


Baby Drawing: Ben Connell

 

Driving I-95 S. With Whisk Brooms and Women.

gif-blink-eyes

5:17 am. 25° F.  Rollin’ down I-95 South in light morning traffic, with other insomniacs and the red tail lights of the hulking convoys.

I roll the tape back to the scene last night.

“Wow!”
“Wow what?”
“How much did it cost?”
“$55.”
“$55?”
“$55.”
“$55 per eyebrow?”
“Really Dad?”
“What?”
“Eyelashes. Eyelashes Dad. And, who would get just one eyelash extended?”

I ponder that for a moment. She has a point there. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: